The Long Tail Does Not Apply to Dead Trees

deadtree.jpegThe Long Tail is one of the most interesting business concepts to come out of recent years – stating that in many markets there is more to gain from selling “less of more”. But that’s got nothing to do with this post. Chris Anderson, the concept’s originator, has an otherwise brilliant blog which seems to have woefully blundered last week. Chris proposes that the print magazine business is less carbon intensive than publishing online. It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to suspect there’s no way this could be true, but there are indeed enough variables to keep a calculator busy for a while if you really wanted to do a comparison. And I won’t belabor it here – take a look at his post to see the depth, or lack therof, that was considered, then look at the comments.
Everyone makes some bad assumptions from time to time, but the universal de-bunking in the comments makes me really happy. Many people in business use less-than thorough thinking to make decisions about their environmental footprint (among other things). If one of the leading thinkers around can do this, imagine how common it is.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

One response

  1. Whoa….I can’t believe how short-sighted that article was. By only looking at tree consumption/production, Anderson completely missed the carbon intensity of print production, distribution, and recycling. Someone needs to buy him a copy of “Cradle to Cradle.”

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